Umpire's nightmare in cup

THE New Year started with an umpire's nightmare in the North Norfolk Table Tennis League.For in the first of the Knockout Doubles Cup semi-finals it was John to serve.

THE New Year started with an umpire's nightmare in the North Norfolk Table Tennis League.

For in the first of the Knockout Doubles Cup semi-finals it was John to serve. And it was John to receive. John's partner was John while John teamed up with John.

This was the derby at Gimingham between Sidewinder's John Paul, John Batchford and Martin Lawes and Special's John Short, John Miller and Jonathan Care. The match started with an easy win in three for Short and Care over Lawes and Batchford, before the second set of the second battle became crucial for Sidewinders as Paul and Batchford levelled with an 8-11, 16-14, 11-4, 11-7 win over Miller and Care.

The next battle went to Sidewinders in straight and the defending champions then went 4-1 ahead, courtesy of two five-setters that really could have gone either way. Lawes and Paul booked Sidewinders' place in the final as a four set win over Miller and Care sealed their 5-1 win. It is likely that they will face Outlaws in that final, but the team of Colin Humphreys, John Hancock Jnr and Alan Rutledge still have work to do to book their place.

They started with an outstanding quarter-final win, 5-0 over Crosscourts for the loss of three sets and will continue as they next meet Dolphins in the other semi. Sidewinders and Outlaws are, of course, still involved in the singles cup as well with a semi-final showdown looming for the right to play Specials in the final.

And that's just the cup games as the first week of league matches of the year took place as well with plenty to play for across the two divisions.

Most Read

Sidewinders defeated Cobras 10-0 with Paul Warner taking the place of Lawes in the Sidewinders line-up - although both he and Batchford scraped to five set wins against James Baldock-Yaxley.

Meanwhile a marathon struggle developed at North Walsham Sports Centre as Alpha's Dave Johns, Ivan Hewitt and Dennis Elliott hosted Backhanders' Teucer Wilson, Murray Shanahan and Chris Marshall with Johns winning the opener in five over Wilson.

Then came Murray against Hewitt - not the stars of the tennis world, but Alpha Ivan defeating Shanahan in five. Wilson was too strong for Hewitt and the Alpha was also narrowly defeated 14-12, 7-11, 5-11, 11-9, 12-10 by Marshall, but Elliott was in form, taking a maximum for Alpha in double quick time.

Johns needed four sets to defeat Marshall and was two sets up against Shanahan before coming through in five. Elliott and Hewitt took the first two sets of the doubles, but as the clock ticked past 11pm Wilson and Marshall took their sixth set point to take the third 15-13.

Backhanders continued to battle back and with the match more than three and a-half hours old, Elliott missed his final two returns from the Marshall serve - the Alpha's bat not connecting with the ball at all on match-point. Backhanders took the doubles in five, but Alpha won the match 7-3.

Specials Short, Care and Ray Howe won a tight tussle over Dolphins 7-3. Scott Wallace won the opener in straight over Howe before the next five encounters went to the visiting Specials team. The final four games then went the distance starting with Steve Nicholls 7-11, 11-8, 7-11, 16-14, 11-8 win over Care.

Howe won the decider 11-2 against Steve Hudson and the doubles went to Dolphins, but perhaps the highlight was the final singles which saw Short defeat Wallace 17-19, 11-8, 9-11, 11-9, 11-8.

It was certainly a busy week for Jonathan Care who was involved in three of this week's eight matches. Having played two games for Specials, Care also played for his own team Goblins in the second division as he teamed up with son Simeon and Peter Ward for an away clash with Beta.

Care defeated Halliday in three and teamed up with Ward for a straight-sets doubles win over Robinson and Chris Johnson to make the final score 6-4 in Beta's favour.